FL Battalion Chiefs File FLSA Misclassification Lawsuit

A group of fourteen current and former battalion chiefs from the Osceola County Fire Rescue and EMS Department have filed a lawsuit alleging the county improperly classified them as overtime exempt executive and administrative employees in violation of the FLSA. Whether any employee can be classified as an overtime exempt executive or administrative employee depends on the specific facts involved. As regular FirefighterOvertime readers are aware, lawsuits containing allegations that battalion chiefs and other shift commanders are being misclassified as overtime exempt are rather common today.

This lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida contains allegations that the county failed to pay the battalion chiefs any overtime until this past August. According to the complaint, the terms of a recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement between the county and the union that represents the battalion chiefs and other Osceola County firefighters contained a provision changing the battalion chief’s status from overtime exempt to hourly [overtime eligible] employees.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • Prior to August 26, 2023, Battalion Chiefs did not receive time and one-half overtime for hours worked outside their normal schedule or for hours in excess of 40 hours in a week, in excess of 53 hours per week, or in excess of 159 hours in a 21-day period. Instead, Battalion Chiefs received “Work Back Pay,” which provided Battalion Chiefs with their normal rate of pay when they worked any extra shift hours or were mandated to attend any meetings.
  • In the current CBA, the “Work Back Pay” section was removed and was replaced with a section labeled “Battalion Chief Overtime.” This section states: “[e]ffective the beginning the first pay period after ratification of this Agreement, Battalion Chiefs will be converted from overtime exempt to hourly employees and shall be eligible for overtime as provided in Article 24 of this Agreement.” The County began paying Battalion Chiefs overtime effective August 26, 2023.
  • Plaintiffs are bringing these claims on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated for failure to make overtime payments under the FLSA’s Section 7(k) exemption.
  • Under the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations applicable to fire fighters covered under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k), (29 C.F.R. § 553.230), an employer must pay overtime compensation to such employees at a rate not less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours of work in excess of 53 hours in a 7-day work period or in excess of 212 hours in a maximum 28-day work period (or in excess of a proportionate number of hours for work periods between 7 and 28 days).
  • Here, Defendant has adopted a 21-day work period for other frontline fire fighters. Thus, Section 7(k) of the FLSA requires Defendant to pay one and one-half times their regular rate of pay to all employees who work hours in excess of 159 hours in a 21-day period.
  • Prior to August 26, 2023, when Plaintiffs and others similarly situated have worked in excess of 159 hours in a 21-day period, Defendant has failed to provide them with the rights and protections provided under the FLSA, including overtime pay at the rate of one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for all hours worked in excess of the hourly standards set forth under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) and 29 C.F.R. § 553.230.
  • By failing to pay the Plaintiffs and others similarly situated the overtime pay required under the law, Defendant has violated the provisions of the FLSA in a manner that is unreasonable, willful, and in bad faith. As a result, at all times material herein, Plaintiffs and those similarly situated have been unlawfully deprived of overtime compensation and other relief for the maximum, three-year period allowed under the law.

Here is a copy of the battalion chief’s complaint:

Contact  William Maccarone to Discuss The Article